Charleston VA begins COVID-19 vaccinations

VIDEO: Charleston VA begins administering its first COVID-19 vaccines

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston began vaccinations Tuesday afternoon with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine hours after receiving their first doses.

The facility is one of 113 VA Medical Centers across the country to receive the first limited supply of that vaccine, spokesperson Erin Curran said.

Officials confirmed the hospital received its first doses Tuesday morning.

“We are eager to offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to our health care personnel and the Veterans living in our community living center,” Ralph H. Johnson VAMC Director and CEO Scott Isaacks said. “Receiving the vaccine is like having hope delivered. As vaccine supplies increase, our ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccination to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”

Sites were identified based on need according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1A prioritization as well as capacity to store the vaccine at 20 degrees below zero Celsius. The Moderna vaccine, the second vaccine to receive approval, does not require the ultracold storage that the Pfizer vaccine requires.

Hospital officials said on Monday afternoon that they intend to go to the highest risk patients in the VA’s community living center and then to staff members.

As vaccines become available for more groups of Veterans, VA care teams will reach out to eligible Veterans to schedule vaccinations. There is no need to preregister or come to a facility to sign up.

Veterans can stay informed about the VA’s COVID-19 plans by visiting this site and clicking on the blue “Sign up to stay informed” button. Veterans enrolled for care at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC can also stay up to date by following the VA’s Facebook page.

Even after receiving COVID-19 vaccination, employees and Veterans should continue wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and washing hands often.

Chief of Staff Dr. Chris Blasy said Monday the vaccination will be voluntary for staff members, though they are encouraging everyone to “really consider it and take it if they’re willing to.”

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